The Return of No. 5

I’d like to discuss this week’s fanfare over the brief return of Nomar Garciaparra to Fenway.

Yesterday, #5 signed a one-day contract with the Red Sox in order to retire from baseball as a member of the Old Town Team. Personally, I’ve always fondly remembered Nomar’s eight seasons in Boston. For the most part, they predated the post-Pennant rise of the fairweather Sox fan…

…and also, let’s not forget that he was a phenomenal baseball player. I think most actual baseball fans in New England are well aware of the difficulties that Nomar had with the team before he got traded halfway through the ’04 season – the $60 million, 4-year contract he turned down, for instance – but if you watched that press conference and felt anything but satisfied, I’d like to know why.

Of course, Dan Shaughnessey, the other man everyone loves to hate (besides Howie Carr), is full of chagrin and disdain. The Sox could go 161-1 and that guy would still have a stick up his ass about something. And that’s all well and good, because he’s probably the premier sports writer in a town full of rabid sports fans, and that’s his job. Yet, despite the few episodes of dickitude that Nomar put us through, the Nation should be flattered that he wants to retire as a member of the Red Sox. If Shaughnessey’s trying to make a point about re-writing history, I want to ask the rhetorical question of whether or not it’s just as bad to write off the good times as it is to forget about the bad times.

What if Manny came back and wanted to do the same thing that Nomar did? Some people would yell until they were blue in the face about how Manny sometimes didn’t run it out to first, or loved himself more than he loved the game, or generally made stupid decisions on a regular basis – all legitimate gripes. Meanwhile, everyone else would be remembering how well he played the ball off the Monster, or the 271 home runs he hit in his 7-and-change seasons as a member of the Red Sox, or the fact that he was fucking hilarious and we’re pretty sure he used to take bong rips during games with the guy who does the Monster scoreboard. Same with Nomar, except he played shortstop, and without the bong rips.

Do his eyes look red to you?

Let’s take a look at some numbers:

All as a member of the Red Sox: 8.5 seasons. 710 RBI. 2,269 total bases. .312 overall batting average (he hit over .300 in 6 out of the 8 full seasons he spent in Boston, including .372 in 2000 and .357 in 1999, something that Shaughnessey notes in his article… the two seasons he hit under .300 were 1996, his first year, and 2001, when he only played 21 games as a result of a wrist injury, which we suspect was from masturbating to his Sports Illustrated cover). 5-time American League All-Star. And .899 overall OPS, for what that’s worth. I know the Red Sox sometimes lend themselves to cults of personality, but these stats don’t lie. And although stats aren’t everything, they’re certainly something.

Maybe my buddies here at the Shack will want to weigh in on this, and I hope they take that suggestion. But I gotta say, I’m happy that Nomar retired as a member of the Red Sox. He played his best baseball in Boston, and I was a huge fan. I was never really that pissed at him. If you want to hate a ballplayer, focus on the Julio Lugos and the Eric Gagnes of the world, not Nomar. If he wants history to remember him as a Red Sox player, the fans should welcome that. So don’t get your tighty-whities in a twist, people.